While most of the dishes could best be described as American food, Di Leo also offers Italian fare—including instructions for homemade pasta and marinara sauce-- and her influences vary widely. Recipes are inspired by a variety of cuisines: French (seared beef fillet), Latin American (arroz con pollo), and Southern (buttermilk fried chicken). While this offers cooks plenty of options, the variety and lack of organization diminish the collection’s cohesiveness. Outside of being family favorites, ones Di Leo has cooked many times over, there’s little in the way of shared themes or techniques to the recipes — they require different equipment and skill sets, and they target different flavor palettes.
Instructions and ingredient lists can be vague. Serving sizes are only rarely included, making it hard to gauge portions. The collection’s strongest elements are Di Leo’s personal touches, such as pairing recommendations, or indications of which dishes her family prizes most. Here’s an ambitious collection of disparate dishes, brought together by a woman with a passion for cooking. And, although it’s at times ambiguous, this cookbook dishes up a bounty of possibilities.
Takeaway: This potpourri of family recipes covers a variety of cuisines for home cooks at every skill level.
Great for fans of: Erica Walker’s Favorite Family Recipes: A Year of Favorites, Alex Guarnaschelli’s The Home Cook.
Design and typography: A-
Marketing copy: B+